Event-orientated Lives

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As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.

When I was a child, my life seemed to exist around events such as Christmas break, summer break, and holidays with my family to British Columbia. These were the happiest times for me because I struggled with school so much as a child.

As an Indigenous person, I have come to realize that my people and other ethnic groups are historically event-orientated people, rather than time-orientated people. For my fellow Indigenous people, our worldview, in many ways, is the exact opposite of the European or Western worldview. This is part of the reason why there were so many conflicts with new settlers and colonization in the history of Canada, the United States, and other countries around the world.

In an event-orientated approach, I focus on the quality of the event, not the agenda with all its timetables and often unrealistic expectations. As an event-orientated person, I find I have more patience with my children as they have started and finished high school. I was not so concerned with whether they completed high school in three years, which is the expectation in Alberta, Canada. I was more concerned with them simply finishing high school and being focused on the next step, whether that was work or a post-secondary education. This released me from being stressed about dates. 

The Biblical Connection

When we look at the overall story of the Bible, we see God’s approach with his chosen people in the Old Testament established with covenants. Some of these Old Testament covenants were with Noah, Moses, the Israelites, and King David. Then in the New Testament, Jesus fulfills the Old Testament covenants through the Messianic covenant. These covenants are based on event-orientated events such as the flood, the life of Abraham and his family, the people of Israel going into exile and coming out of exile and entering the promised land, King David’s reign, and the life of Jesus. This is where we get the gospel message for the world.

All these covenants are based on the relationship between God and humans and his son living among us and then dying on the cross, restoring the broken relationship between God and humans that goes back to the fall of humankind in the garden of Eden.

Within the history of Canada, there have been treaties between the federal government and various Indigenous Peoples. The Indigenous People believe the government has not lived up to those treaties. Yet we know God hasn’t broken any of his treaties/covenants with us.

In the Bible, people broke their promises to God all the time, but God never breaks his promises to us. Reflecting on the history of colonization in Canada and the United States has reminded me that we as humans break our promises all the time, but God doesn’t act that way. Therefore our focus should be on the events of God’s story in the Bible, not on how we have let each other down. Being focused on biblical events takes our focus off our disappointments with each other.

When I was a child, I don’t recall feeling like my parents always broke their promises to me to go on holidays, and I don’t recall feeling like my friends broke their promises to me to play and hang out with me. We simply just were family and friends and did things together. My life at that time was often based around the events that were going on in my parents’ lives, as well as daily routine events, such as supper time and bedtime. I saw life as events. 

In Indigenous cultures, we aren’t consumed with start and end times at community events. Rather, we focus on when everyone gets there or when the key people arrive.

When I think of my childhood days, the way God develops relationships with his human creation, and culture of my Indigenous people, I see a common worldview among them. It causes me to ponder how this event-orientated approach has revolutionized my life. May you, the reader, think of the ways you view life and ponder what you have experienced. I challenge you to change your perspective and approach to be more event orientated.  

Happy Holidays

When I look at the Christmas season, I have learned to appreciate the whole month of December as a season and monthlong event, rather than putting all my hopes and joy on just Christmas Eve and Day. When we read about the Christmas story being prophesied about in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the New Testament, we see an event-orientated approach to life. Mary and Joseph were focused on the event of having the baby Jesus. The wise men were focused on the event of visiting the child with gifts. The shepherds were focused on the event of worshiping the Savior the angels told them about. The event was the son of God coming to dwell among us and save us from our sinful natures.

I find that when I focus on being event orientated, I don’t get caught up in being stressed about all the small details. I stay focused on the joy of the event and the joy of the journey that leads to the event. As a child, I enjoyed the holidays and all the fun associated with those yearly events. As I watched my children graduate from high school, I enjoyed the journey of watching them mature and finish what they started. As I finish my doctoral studies, I am enjoying the journey of interviewing people for my qualitative research, and I am enjoying the reading I’m doing to help prove my argument and main points. I look forward to the event of graduating and turning my project dissertation into my third book.

As we all enter the Christmas season, let’s stay focused on enjoying the entire month of December with all its unique aspects and on relationships with people, rather than stressing about presents or unrealistic expectations. Let’s remind ourselves of the event of Jesus’ birth that led to the forgiveness of our sins and restoring our relationship with God. All the events in the Bible point to how our very lives, no matter how long, can include a deeper relationship with God and all of humankind.

Being event orientated allows us to enjoy the journey and not be consumed with all the details. Connect with people. Appreciating the beauty of Christmas lights and decorations. Bask in the glorious taste of turkey and ham with all the fixings. Be extra generous to those who need it. Take advantage of some of the sales without being consumed with spending too much. Attending a Christmas service and enjoying songs of Christmas reflections and the encouragement of the pastor’s seasonal message. Be event orientated. 

My childhood memories, my Indigenous worldview, my biblical heritage of God’s covenants—all this points me in the direction of being event orientated. All of these events remind of when Jesus will return to us riding on a white horse as spoken of in the book of Revelation. This all leads to the ultimate eternal event of serving and worshiping our God through Jesus Christ for all eternity. 

About the Author

Parry Stelter is a originally from Alexander First Nation in Alberta, Canada (Treaty Six Territory) and is doctoral candidate with Providence University and Seminary. Specializing in Contextual Leadership. He is an active member of Hope CRC in Stony Plan, AB, Canada. He’s a guest speaker and offers a variety of workshops. Visit his website at wordofhopeministries.ca to learn more about this ministry.

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